Chris Pierce – Let All Who Will
This L.A. artist delivers with precision & power & is always expressive. With a firm folk aesthetic Chris Pierce tries & succeeds to make a difference through his music. Protest songs aren’t always universally accepted or understood but Pierce has pieced together a fairly logical approach with attractive music in solid arrangements. He isn’t stabbing but a performer who obviously wants to make what he says matter.
Chris’ storytelling, musicianship & soulful vocals compel justice & compassion through his showcase & he does it admirably with a voice that has a vivid tone. Chris provides a musical backdrop with equal ingredients of folk, blues & soul applied to his message songs without being too over-wrought. He touches upon social change, coming together, the difficulty of his songwriting art, uncovering some hard realities without pontificating & explores the essentials of the human condition be it with aspirations, conflicts, or resilience.
The 15-cut Let All Who Will (Drops Sept 1–Calabama Recordings/Friends at Work-Downtown Distribution) was produced by Niko Bolas & David Resnik & recorded at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA. What makes Chris’ music affirming is that no matter what is sung Chris never adds vinegar to the mix, or gets aggressive or angry.
The songs allow listeners to realize the blemishes of history as he sculpts his tunes with an air of listenability, so even in a tragic narrative as “Tulsa Town,” it’s presented with sensibility. It allows those ignorant or simply unaware of this event to listen much closer. Not all songs are pretty, but Pierce’s expertise allows the songs to seep into the pores & makes them all that much more accessible.
“American Silence,” is invigorating as an early Bob Dylan folk song spiced with harmonica runs & melodic meditations on serious subjects. All without leaving a heavy greasy feeling in the belly or ear. This is how a folk song can penetrate hardened souls. The songs can grip one without shoving. Surprisingly, one of the most pensive tracks is a cover of The Cars’ “Drive,” which Chris renders beautifully.
Chris has a silky balladeer tone & could easily apply his seasoned voice to more entertaining endeavors. But for now, his modern-day folk music allows Chris Pierce to occupy a sensible lofty perch in folk music.
Not everything Chris performs has a heavy message or reference. His songs indulge the ears with no heavy lifting. Chris understands the value of appealing to the heart as much as the mind.
Highlights – “Batten Down the Hatches,” “45 Jukebox,” “Overdue,” “Tulsa Town,” “American Silence,” “Home,” “Magic & Light,” “We Can Always Come Back To This” & “Drive.”
Musicians/Singers – Doug Pettibone, Sunny War, Michael Jerome, Kaveh Rastegar, Kelvin Holly, Deron Johnson, Dave Palmer, Maiya Sykes, Jessica Childress, Charles Jones & Ginger Murphy.
B&W image/CD cover photo courtesy of Mathieu Bitton. The 58-minute CD @ https://www.chrispierce.com/